Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Apollo: The Race To The Moon” as Want to Read:
Apollo: The Race To The Moon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Apollo: The Race To The Moon

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,376 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Out of print for fifteen years, this is the classic account of how the United States got to the moon. It is a book for those who were part of Apollo and want to recapture the experience and for those of a new generation who want to know how it was done. It is an opinion shared by many Apollo veterans. Republished in 2004 with a new Foreword by the authors.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by South Mountain Books (first published January 1st 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Apollo, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Apollo

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,376 ratings  ·  119 reviews

Sort order
Start your review of Apollo: The Race To The Moon
H. Honsinger
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is, by far, my favorite book about the early days of America's space program and about the Apollo missions. Unlike most books which are largely narrative of the missions and that focus on the launches, landings, and activities of the astronauts, this book focuses on the development of the launch vehicles, spacecraft, and mission management systems that took the astronauts to the moon. It immerses the reader in three cultures: one formed around the captured German rocket engineers who d ...more
Daniel Villines
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I cannot help but believe that there are better books out there about the Apollo Program. There must be books that are well written and well organized, and present the path and the people that made the moon landing possible. Apollo makes this attempt, but it falls short.

While reading Apollo it felt like Murray and Cox realized that they tried to accomplish too much and then tried to save what they had already done. The result is an informative book, that also leaves many questions unanswered an
Carl Nelson
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Apollo" is the story of how a nation went from having limited space flight capability to landing a man on the lunar surface within the space of a decade, and the people who made that happen. The narrative concentrates on the stories of NASA administrators, engineers, flight controllers, and technicians, with a supporting cast of Presidents, astronauts, and contractors. Rather than telling the story of the astronauts (as many Apollo program histories do quite well), "Apollo" describes who design ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a growing collection of books about the Apollo program. Apollo, The Race To The Moon, by Murray and Cox, is very much unlike the others. It focuses on the cast of thousands who brought the program to life, instead of on the more famously well-known astronauts. Names like Armstrong, Aldrin and Lovell barely make cameo appearances, while others like Kranz and Kraft run throughout the book. Getting to know them and watching them do something they truly loved is the point here. Not so much ge ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting and informative history of the Apollo program via the engineers and flight controllers and mission control people.
Brian Page
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
APOLLO: The Race to the Moon” is widely regarded as one of the best accounts of the Apollo program. It’s a reputation that is well deserved. No single volume is ever going to do justice to the moon program but this history by Murray and Cox is masterful. The focus of their history is on the engineers who designed and ran the program. For those who have read many of the other outstanding accounts, this APOLLO fills in a number of gaps. So no matter which other accounts you have read, add this to ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book doesn’t really focus much on astronauts, but on the engineers. It really captures the amazing achievements of each step in the Apollo programme from the buildings involved, the equipment even to move the rocket about and the various parts of the rocket. It really managers to impart how big the hurdles were. I loved the way the authors described some parts such as a rocket launch where they manage to give the reader how nerve racking it was for the controllers and engineers when a rocke ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best things I've read in a long time, if not overall. Chronicles the folks of NASA and its early iterations (Space Task Group, Marshall, etc.) that are not portrayed by square-jawed matinee idols; engineers, systems analysts, drafters and designers - the people responsible for getting those incomprehensible flying machines off the ground and, in some cases, managing the bonkers task of mid-flight trouble shooting.

In an era of knee-jerk doubt and cynicism from most people towards most
Steve Sarrica
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Murray and Cox's "Apollo: The Race to the Moon" is a collection of stories about the people in flight operations and leadership that made humanity's first visits to another celestial body reality. It is not a by-the-numbers history of each any every flight, rather, it is a collection of stories and anecdotes about the overall effort woven into a compelling, quick narrative. The people, their interactions, the management, the processes, the politics and their interplay are related with interest a ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Utterly fascinating. This book combines the truly awesome (in the real sense of that word) accomplishments of the Apollo missions with the personal stories that add a human element to one of humanity's greatest achievements. Highly, highly recommended. ...more
Sean McBride
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love NASA and anything to do with the space race. The idea that we are exploring the far reaches of our known universe and doing so with little knowledge is absolutely fascinating to me. In the same way that the explorers of the previous millennium didn't know if they would have sailed off the end of the world, these brave astronauts didn't know if they would explode in space. They didn't know if they would burn up when they got outside of protection of the atmo ...more
Andrew Bulthaupt
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space, audible
I listened to this book via Audible.

Apollo is a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to achieve John F. Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. It focuses on the engineers, fabricators, controllers, rocket scientists, managers, and politicians that made the journeys of the astronauts possible. If you're interested in more than the missions, this is the book for you.

Murray and Cox start by going back to the days of NACA at Langley and Lewis and goes from there.
Scott Maclellan
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Space and rocketry are coming back to the mainstream thanks to Rocket Labs and Space X. You can watch launches all the time. Thanks to YouTubers like Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, you can learn about the engineering behind these amazing developments. To find out stories of the early years I would need to recommend this book.

The technical details and depth of the research sets this apart. This was a expansive story covering the less known heros and events throughout Apollo.
Penelope Bartsch
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you ever wanted to know HOW we got to the moon, this is the book for you. But if you want the simple version of how we got to the moon, this ISN'T the book for you. I learned about not just Apollo but the entire manned space program, from the early days of rocketry to the barely up-before-he-came- down-sub-orbital flight of John Glenn, the Mercury and Gemini programs, the deaths of three astronauts and the near loss of Apollo 13, to the final trip to the moon in 1972. A reader might get bogge ...more
Paul A.
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Apollo is a detailed look at the program to put a man on the moon. It is not about the astronauts or the moon mission itself, but rather about the effort, beginning in the late 1950s, to create a US space program. The effort kicks into high gear when in 1961 Kennedy commits the US to sending a man to the moon and bringing him safely back to earth before the end of the decade. This was an unreasonable, even ridiculous goal given the primitive state of the US space program at that time. Apollo tra ...more
Lou Kitz
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apollo was the perfect balance between historical, technical, and biographical narrative for me. The narration by Bob Souer was a perfect match in style and temperament to the material. I enjoyed it very much. I was born in 1962 and reached elementary school as the Apollo excitement was peaking. I followed the program as best I could at that age with model making, reading, and watching the launches and recoveries on TV, sometimes on large TVs wheeled into my class. What I didn't bring to this bo ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, science
I absolutely loved this book, and I hope to read it again.

Only shortcoming is that there were just way too many names for me to keep tack of, especially in an audiobook. And that's really just my limitation.

What I liked?
* The story is incredible.
* I felt like I came out of it really understanding a lot of what had happened with the conflicting personalities, viewpoints, and incentives.
* It did a great job of explaining some of the awesomeness of what the space program did

This last one is one of
Destiny Yarbro
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
** A perfect recommend for those who doubt man walked on the moon in 1969. Each labor-intensive step in that behemoth of a project is laid out, documented, and confirmed with primary and secondary sources. **

Rather than the astronaut’s accounts that we all know, this book goes to those behind the scenes, working around the world as well as in Houston, who built the NASA program from the ground up.

There was technical jargon I didn’t understand fully, yes, but the book flowed and kept its forward
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very fascinating look at the Apollo program. I've never read anything about the scientists who built and shaped the program, since most of what is available is on the astronauts themselves. There are a lot of people to keep track of, so I think this made it tough to read, but I found that if I looked up photos of the people who popped up a lot that helped. I listed to this as an audiobook, and loved the narrator. He read like a 1960s news reporter, which gave the whole thing a new ...more
Benjamin Slivka
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great narrative of the Apollo engineers and leaders

I read The Right Stuff last year, and it was quite a testosterone-laden journey through the manned space program in the USA. Fighter pilots, test pilots, drinking, women, egos, and more.

But I enjoyed this view into the Apollo program much more. Perhaps because of my experience as a software engineer, building software for hundreds of millions of people?

The authors conducted over 100 interviews with key Apollo personnel, and describe the big ch
Robert Pondiscio
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended highly by a discerning friend, who warned me it was out of print and hard to find, I had to settle for an audiobook of Apollo. This was suboptimal, since the book is a detailed examination of the men (nearly all of them were male) who built, tested, and flew the Apollo missions: the engineers and scientists who made the thing work, not the astronauts, who are peripheral characters. It's a remarkable tale of human ingenuity and competence, long and occasionally dry, but well worth the ...more
Kennedy Hudner
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an astonishing look at the Apollo space program, not from the astronauts perspective, but rather from the perspective of the engineers and managers. I know, it sounds boring, but it's not. Instead you get to see how the entire space program was built from scratch, and how incredibly important the personality of key managers and engineers was. Put another way, you get to see the space program before it became a bureaucracy, and it was marvelous. Importantly, the book doesn't gloss over th ...more
Aaron Arnold
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a superb history. After finishing it, I found that it did several things that I liked. First of all, it stayed true to its title and concentrates tightly on the Apollo Program only, tracing its journey from the creation of NASA in the late-50s post-Sputnik panic to the splashdown of Apollo 17. Secondly, it focused on the engineers who designed and guided the Apollo rather than either the astronauts who flew it or the politicians who oversaw it - this was a side of the story I'd never heard ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite its nearly 30 year old publication date, this book is still a worthwhile read about the Apollo program. Some parts may come off as dry, but for this space nerd, it had plenty of stories to tell that I hadn’t heard before. It concentrates on all the planners and control crew that most other space books tend to gloss over. Taking the reader from the early days of the Space Task Group to the first Mercury capsule that had to be manually shaved down in size so it would fit atop the rocket to ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Over 50 years since we landed on the moon and even though I have worked most of my life in aviation, I remain amazed at the scale of the achievement. I remember sitting with my father watching the astronauts on TV walk on the surface of the moon. Those news reports so captured my imagination that they shaped my life. Like many, I was unaware of the true events that went into such an achievement. Had I read this book when I was young, I would likely have pursued a career in engineering. Truly ama ...more
Tanner Nelson
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible. It is absolutely worth all the praise it gets. Pretty much all my knowledge about the Apollo program comes from watching Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, so this book provided an extensive amount of context for my juvenile understanding of what happened. Luckily for me, the authors spend a good deal of time describing the Apollo 13 incident.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Some parts I even revisited to remind myself they weren’t hyperbole. (Did you know the Vehicle Assembly Build
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and informative, helps to put the 'bits everyone knows about' in context of the whole programme of manned space flight.

But it doesn't really seem to know who its writing for. There are far too many people mentioned without really developing their role and character in such a way that they remain memorable each time you pick the book up (or in my case continue listening to the audio). The strategy and technical detail was interesting, but in my opinion it would be improved if the huma
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the emphasis on the engineers. Truly, the astronauts deserve all the credit they usually get, but this book remembers to honor--and make heroic--the countless hours poured in by thousands of almost anonymous scientists and engineers to make good on JFK's challenge. For those whose names do get some star time--Kranz, Low, Petrone, Webb, Shea, Simpkinson, et al.--it was great to learn their contributions. It was sad, too, at times, to see how the program ate the very people invested in it. ...more
Jordan Ricks
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great book! If you are a fan of the Apollo program you really need to read this. Most of the books I’ve read about the program focus on the astronauts and their amazing acts of courage. Those types of books are great, too (Apollo 8 is a particular favorite of mine), but NASA was so much more than a handful of astronauts. This book is about the engineers that were behind the moon missions. I found it just as exciting and intriguing as books focused specifically on the program’s astronauts. ...more
Luis Brochado Reis
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I don't really get the big praise this book has. It is not just the story of how Apollo got to the moon. The book goes on way more about what this director had for lunch and what kind of talk goes between all the politicians... The Gemini and mercury programs are so little referenced that I had to read about them somewhere else to even understand their full context. And the Apollo program didn't die with 13... There were four more moon missions after it and they get less than a chapter out of 20 ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Man on the Moon
  • Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon
  • Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond
  • The Space Race
  • Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13
  • AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War
  • Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight
  • The Home Front: Life in America During World War II
  • The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution
  • Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11
  • The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence
  • The Right Stuff
  • The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel
  • The Man Who Knew The Way to the Moon
See similar books…
Charles Alan Murray is an American libertarian conservative political scientist, author, and columnist. His book Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (1984), which discussed the American welfare system, was widely read and discussed, and influenced subsequent government policy. He became well-known for his controversial book The Bell Curve (1994), written with Richard Herrnstein, in whi ...more

Related Articles

For more than a decade, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world-renowned astrophysicist and host of the popular radio and Emmy-nominated...
86 likes · 17 comments
“Chariots for Apollo: The Making of the Lunar Module, by Charles B. Pellegrino and Joshua Stoff (New York: Atheneum, 1985),” 0 likes
More quotes…